Yes I know, Christmas is over and the Valentine's stuff is in the shops already - only one month to buy that special someone that special something - but here the spirit of Christmas or at least some of the trimmings last until February 2, Feast of the Presentation in the Temple. In the Church of England we called it Candlemas and it was the day on which all the candles to be used for the liturgical year were blessed, quite a lovely ritual. But I digress - as I sometimes do, back to the 39 or so days of Christmas.
Part of those trimmings are the Presepe or crèches that are displayed in churches throughout the city. Some are pretty cheesy - vulgar plaster statues encircled with flashing Christmas lights - but others are works of art. Entire villages are constructed - often with Bethleham resembling the area around the church they were created for, the Presepe at San Marcello has gas lamps much like the ones that once light the nearby Corso. Many date from the 19th century or earlier and figurines wear elaborate clothing meticulously aping the fashion of the period.
It stands to the reason that at the wonder that is the Pantheon (Chiesa di Santa Santa Maria dei Martiri)they would have an almost life size Presepe. It was created by art students from the Leon Wyczolkowski School of Fine Arts in Bydgoszcz (Poland as some thoughtful person added to the billboard.)
Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.
Even if our friend Larry hadn't told me I would have known this was Polish immediately. The colourings are similar to those of the traditional Polish crèches and it has that rather disconcerting influence of Social Realism left over from the good old days of Communism that still echos in certain schools of Polish art. The exception is the Bambino - Jesus bears a striking resemblance to the slightly bloated figures of Botero. There may not have been room at the inn but there appears to have been food.
Also a little unusual are the figures on the right of the tableau - four "modern" saints coming to worship with the traditional Shepherds and Wise Men. I can only identify Saint Teresa the Little Flower of Christ and try as he might Larry couldn't put a name to the other three either.
13 gennaio - San Ilario di Poitiers